“South Korean company Soulbrain is establishing a plant in Tatabánya with an investment of some seven billion forints (EUR 20 million), where it will produce electrolytes for lithium batteries on an area of 47000 square metres; the government is providing 425 million forints (EUR 1.25 million) in non-returnable funding towards the project”, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó announced at a press conference in Budapest on Wednesday.

“In future, the plant will be capable of providing for the raw material needs of the large Korean battery manufacturing companies operating in Hungary: SK Innovation and Samsung”, he added.

The Minister told reporters that in the first phase Soulbrain will be creating some 50 jobs, but the company has purchased a large enough plot to also provide enough room for a second and third phase.

Mr. Szijjártó highlighted the fact that the backbone of the Hungarian economy is the automotive industry, which is responsible for 29 percent of industrial production, with 170 thousand people employed within the sector and a 91 percent export ratio.

Despite the predictions of impending doom, the performance of the Hungarian automotive industry increased by 13 percent in the first 11 months of 2019, generating 8947 billion forints (EUR 26.43 billion) in production value, which already exceeds the new record set during the whole of 2018.

The Minister said the government’s Eastern Opening strategy is a success, and investments from the East are playing an increasing role in the Hungarian economy.  “Last year, 48 percent of the investment value arriving in Hungary came from large eastern companies, and 32 percent of the new jobs created in Hungary are also linked to eastern investment projects. In 2019, South Korean enterprises decided on the largest number of major Hungarian investments, and 22 major South Korean investment projects have arrived in the country since 2014 with a total volume of 1300 billion forints (EUR 3.84 billion), and have created 7000 new workplaces”, he stated.

“The fact that several investment projects relating to electromobility and the new automotive industry era have arrived in Hungary has already had a positive effect”, he explained. “South Korea is the global market leader in the manufacturing of electric batteries, and the two largest South Korean electric battery manufacturers are currently constructing the world’s largest battery manufacturing plants in Hungary. SK Innovation and Samsung are realising billons of euros of investment in Hungary, and are establishing the world’s largest electric battery manufacturing capacities, which will also attract further suppliers”, he continued.

Financial Director of Soulbrain Dominic Lee told the press that according to plan the construction of the Tatabánya plant will be completed by the end of this year, and the facility will begin production in mid-2021. “The total value of the investment is some 20 million euros, and annual turnover is expected to reach 150 million euros. The company will also be cooperating with Hungarian education institutions, providing various training opportunities and apprenticeships. Soulbrain is striving to be present on the market as a secure handler of chemical materials”, he stated.

Member of Parliament János Bencsik (Fidesz) pointed out that the government resolution declaring the Tatabánya and Esztergom regions to be priority automotive industry and mechatronic development regions was issued in 2014. “The past six years has seen the realisation of investment projects that have elevated the Tatabánya-Oroszlány-Tata-Komárom conglomerate from the country’s economic life”, he declared.